Donald Trump has named Mark Meadows as White House chief of staff, replacing acting chief Mick Mulvaney at a time when the administration is under mounting pressure over its response to the coronavirus.
The US president announced the appointment on Twitter late Friday, saying: “I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is very good one.” Mr Meadows, a congressman from North Carolina, is one of Mr Trump’s closest congressional allies.
Mr Meadows, 60, will be Mr Trump’s fourth chief of staff in just over three years. Mr Mulvaney had been in the position in an acting capacity since January 2019 in addition to his role as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The role of chief of staff has traditionally been viewed as the second-most powerful job in Washington, but the importance of the position has been diminished by the US president.
Mr Mulvaney was a central figure in Mr Trump’s impeachment investigation and the congressional probe into whether the president withheld military aid to Kyiv in exchange for political favours from his Ukrainian counterpart. Mr Mulvaney was subpoenaed by the congressional committees leading the probe, but refused to comply with the investigation.
In a rare press conference in October, he told reporters that the aid was withheld in an effort to persuade Kyiv to investigate what Mr Trump said was corruption by the Democrats in the 2016 election. He later attempted to walk back his remarks, issuing a statement saying the aid was withheld to convince Ukraine to root out corruption more broadly, and insisting that there had been no “quid pro quo”.
Mr Trump said on Friday that Mr Mulvaney had “served the administration so well” and would become the US special envoy for Northern Ireland.
Mr Meadows is a former chair of the House Freedom Caucus. He was a particularly fierce defender of the president during his impeachment trial. The congressman announced at the end of last year that he would not seek re-election in 2020, prompting speculation that he would be offered a key role in the administration.